2020 was a year unlike any other. The stock market suffered a historic crash as the COVID-19 pandemic spread to the United States.
Economic shutdowns and a volatile presidential election couldn’t keep Mr. Market down for long, as all the major indices made new all-time highs as the year drew to a close. The S&P 500 began the year trading around 3,257, crashed to 2,237 in March, and is on pace to close out the year around the 3,740 level.
A look back at Benzinga’s most popular stories of the year paints an interesting portrait of market volatility and trader enthusiasm. Here’s a look at some of our most-read stories of 2020.
McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) CEO Chris Kempczinski took over as CEO after the fast-food giant fired Stephen Easterbrook in late 2019 for violating company policy and engaging in a consensual relationship with another employee.
"We're going to be a lot better, a lot closer to where we want to be, where we aspire to be as a company,” Kempczinski told employees.
Shares of Aurora Cannabis (NYSE: ACB) had dropped about 30% over the previous last month, under pressure due to analyst downgrades and “misplaced market chatter,” according to Cantor Fitzgerald. The stock traded around $20 per share at the time and shares currently trade at $8.72, down about 66% year-to-date.
One market laggard of the past decade was Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC). Bank of America and other U.S. banks were hit hard during the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Among the big banks that survived the crisis, Bank of America was one of the hardest hit. At one point in 2009, Bank of America’s share price dropped as low as $2.53 on fears it might not survive.
Jan. 26: Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine people in a helicopter that crashed in California. There were no survivors. The NBA legend played 20 years for the Los Angeles Lakers and won five NBA championships.
It’s safe to say the electric vehicle space provided the biggest “story stock” run of the year, best exemplified by industry stalwart Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA). Longtime bull Cathie Wood, the CEO of Ark Investment Management, slapped a $7,000 price target on the stock on Feb. 1, which drew plenty of cheers and jeers. With Tesla shares up 700% year-to-date, Wood may be getting the last laugh.
Tesla’s core computing technology, which will allow autonomous operation, is "far ahead" of other carmakers' computing, according to a "tear-down" of the vehicle and review by Nikkei Asian Review. No wonder the stock has outperformed the entire auto industry.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) lawyers initiated legal action against a former employee for allegedly violating his terms of employment. Tom Sadowski published a book called "App Store Confidential" that the consumer electronics giant believes reveals confidential information that Sadowski wasn't supposed to disclose as part of his employment contract.
What should you have in your home emergency kit in case of a quarantine? The question was at top of mind in early March, as the COVID-19 coronavirus started making its way to all corners of the country.
The continued spread of the novel coronavirus has affected the economic activity in the country, with citizens being advised to avoid non-essential social gatherings.
The drop in the value of “MAGA” stocks on March 17 came as the Nasdaq dropped more than 12%. Others, including Dow Jones and S&P 500, suffered similar losses in what was the worst single-day performance since October 1987.
Carnival Corp (NYSE: CCL), Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE: RCL) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NYSE: NCLH) had their businesses completely upended by the pandemic. The service suspensions — and the long-term impact on consumer trust — could prove painful, according to BofA Securities.
By BofA's assessment, demand could take several years to recover. Net yields took three years to return to pre-Sept. 11 levels and about eight years to return to pre-Great Recession levels.
5 Best Performing S&P 500 Stocks Of 2020
Etsy Inc (NASDAQ: ETSY)
Carrier Global Corp (NYSE: CARR)
Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA)
Paypal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: PYPL)
One stock that has been on an upward trajectory since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic is Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA), a clinical-stage mRNA company. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company first announced a collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop a COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 23.
Back in mid-April, the enrollment of participants for the highest dose arm was underway in the Phase 1 study of mRNA-1273, its vaccine candidate for the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The vaccine received emergency use authorization from the FDA on Dec. 18.
"If everything went perfectly, we'd be in scale manufacturing within a year," Bill Gates told CNN's Fareed Zakaria. "It could be as long as two years." In December, millions of vaccine doses from Moderna and Pfizer were distributed.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) CEO Warren Buffett is one of the most successful and well-respected investors of all time, and Tesla is one of the most controversial investments on Wall Street these days. So when Buffett recently sat down with Yahoo Finance for an interview, it’s only natural that editor-in-chief Andy Serwer would ask Buffett about Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk.
A study published in the journal Preprints, which is not peer-reviewed, found certain marijuana strains could prevent the spread and severity of COVID-19. It’s all tied to how the coronavirus is transmitted between patients.
Like most respiratory illnesses, tiny droplets carrying the disease expelled by coughing or sneezing go airborne. Once a non-infected patient inhales those droplets, it typically enters your body through cells in your lungs and corresponding tissue.
Genius Brands International (NASDAQ: GNUS) surged more than 2,850% since May on news of operational improvements and investments. The children’s entertainment company announced it would merge its “Kid Genius Cartoon Channel” and “Baby Genius TV” into a digital network. CEO Andy Heyward called it a free “Netflix for kids” and, in an appeal to today’s parents, an “economic vaccine for COVID-19.”
To Citron Research, the developments didn’t warrant the dramatic price surge. It wouldn't be the last time we heard from the notorious short seller.
Scandal-stained Luckin Coffee saw its shares slump to a low of $1.33 on delisting risk but saw strong momentum this particular week. The spike may have been due to bargain hunting amid the stock's plunge. With bargain hunters picking up the stock, some of the short bets may have unwound, creating additional strength.
5 Worst Performing S&P 500 Stocks Of 2020
Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE: OXY)
Norwegian Cruise Line
TechnipFMC PLC (NYSE: FTI)
Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE: MRO)
Tesla had the single largest short position of any U.S. stock. And while short sellers still pound the table on how detached the stock has come from reality, Tesla is a textbook example of how much more dangerous it is for traders to short a stock than go long.
Workhorse Group (NASDAQ: WKHS) is an electric truck manufacturer. The stock exploded in June, spending the first half of the year trading under $4 a share and the second half of the year trading between $17 and $30. CFO Steve Schrader spoke with Benzinga about Workhorse's valuation, its financing and its place in the market.
Military service members are no longer forbidden to use CBD products. The House of Representatives approved a measure that allows troops to use hemp products as well as its derivatives.
The measure passed by a vote of 336 to 71 and the initiative was led by Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who is also a military veteran. It specifies that the Secretary of Defense may not prohibit ”the possession, use, or consumption” of hemp or hemp-derived product to a “member of the Armed Forces” as long as the crop meets federal standards.
The popularity of this news item was just a microcosm of the SPAC (specialty purpose acquisition company) explosion this year. A SPAC is a company with no commercial operations formed to raise capital through an initial public offering for the purpose of acquiring an existing company.
219 "blank-check" companies raised $73 billion in proceeds in 2020. The 462% year-over-year rise raised by SPACs this year outpaced traditional IPOs, which raised $67 billion year-to-date.
Due to their popularity, Benzinga launched a daily “SPACS Attack” show on YouTube.
One day after Tesla’s 5-for-1 stock split took effect, the electric vehicle manufacturer announced a $5-billion at-the-market offering. The move came amid the stock’s massive rise in value, as well as the company’s ongoing efforts to construct new Gigafactories in Texas and Germany.
Tesla’s Chinese peers didn’t see the company's plan to bring out a $25,000 electric vehicle as a cause of major concern. Tesla had said it aims to produce a $25,000 fully autonomous electric car within three years at its battery day event.
Xpeng Inc’s (NASDAQ: XPEV) Vice Chairman Brian Gu said the company's mid-range EVs are already priced around the $25,000 mark and if Tesla raises its Shanghai plant’s output to 1 million vehicles annually, it “means the market has grown so much faster and bigger than what we anticipated.”
Sept. 18: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died following complications from pancreatic cancer. At 87 years old, Ginsburg had served on the court for 27 years.
Hertz Global shares spiked sharply higher after the company announced it secured commitments of $1.65 billion in debtor-in-possession financing. On May 22, Hertz filed for bankruptcy protection amid $19 billion in debt and 700,000 idle rental cars due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The stock currently trades under $2 on the OTC market.
Nio Inc (NYSE: NIO), one of the year’s best performers, had a strong run in its share price this particular week. The Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer was on the cusp of capitalizing on a slew of initiatives it has undertaken to push vehicle sales higher and bring about cost discipline.
Shares of Kate Spade and Coach parent company Tapestry Inc (NYSE: TPR) notched a strong return in October. Meanwhile, shares of General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) rallied 20% throughout October after a few months of softness. Both stocks continued to trade higher throughout the last two months of the year.
Back in November 2018, Citron Research’s Andrew Left compared Nio to Tesla when the former was trading at around $7 per share. At the time of this story, Nio shares traded at $53.
“After a rocky road of trading, NIO has found itself in unchartered territory that can never be justified by its current standing in the China EV market or its near-term prospects,” Left wrote in a report, which was Benzinga’s most-read story of the entire year.
Ahh, the holidays. Restocking of Sony’s (NYSE: SNE) PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) latest Xbox consoles left GameStop (NYSE: GME) employees surprised as they were given little notice of the fresh stock, which led to chaotic crowds posing a potential health risk amid the ongoing pandemic.
A GameStop manager reportedly shared a company email sent to the store minutes before the public announcement that indicated the location would have 15 new consoles available for pre-order. However, minutes after the announcement, a crowd of 40 appeared at the store, violating social distancing norms.
Yep, Elon Musk was back at it again in the final month of the year. The Tesla and SpaceX founder has a history of poking fun at cryptocurrencies.
The price Bitcoin sat around the $7,000 level in January. As of Dec. 30, the cryptocurrency traded around $28,000.
A headline that perfectly captures life in 2020. Actor and well-known stoner Seth Rogen has said, “I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years. For me, it's like glasses or shoes.” But is smoking weed every day a good idea? If so, what actually happens?
Who on Twitter Taught You The Most About Investing/Trading This Year?
— Benzinga (@Benzinga) December 29, 2020
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